This post appeared as the blog post for ‘The Refugee Film’, a project I am heavily involved in at the present time. I may share news about the project on here from time to time.
Last Friday, ‘The Bread Man’ who is featured in our film, visited Kentucky where he and I both spoke at the Kiwanis, he spoke at a local church on Sunday morning while I turned it into a Persicope (now on our Youtube Channel) and we did a fundraiser BBQ. These events were a success although there is the unexpected hurdle to jump.
My hurdle presented itself the day of his arrival in the form of an infected tooth. By the weekend, my jaw was swollen and still is, offering the world the gift of my silence for a few days and me the gift of major dental work this next week. However, it is a chance to reflect, personally, on what those we are trying to assist suffer through each day.
My dentist is closed on Friday and I was saved from the ‘climb the walls and scream’ pain accompanying my predicament when I accidentally bumped into my physician as I walked into a pharmacy to buy over the counter pain killers that I knew would be inadequate. Literally, one look at me, and he was giving me a script.
We’ve seen the numbers of refugees trying to reach Europe from the Middle East swell in recent days. The picture of the little boy drowned and washed ashore has left many stunned. Tomorrow there will be new tragedies to shake our consciousness.
Yet, sitting here unable to work the way I want, the pain in my jaw is a reminder that thousands are suffering from the lack of simple remedies. For a refugee, a simple antibiotic and painkillers like I was able to get in a few minutes is equivalent to finding gold. Have an infected tooth, swollen jaw? Suffer the pain for the next 1000 miles. There is no ER. There is no doc to phone. No dentist to ring up and make an appointment with for next week. The body, mind, and spirit of a refugee are diminished by the lack of what many of us take for granted.
I once did a medical mission to the Philippines where I remember them telling me of a little boy who had died during the rainy season before we arrived. He was four years old and had gotten a tooth infection. The rain made the river at the base of the mountain impassable so the fever ravished his body for several days and then he died. We were the first medical team to the village in nearly a year. We had just basic treatments to pass out but we treated nearly 120 patients in around 3 hours.
So you are sitting at home, watching the chaos unfold in Greece, Hungary, Germany and the numbers keep swelling by the hour, that mass of humanity crying out on your television, tablet or phone, what to do? Well, I hope you will donate to us but if you don’t, contribute to someone! Take the spare change you’ll spend on soda, cigs, the bottle of wine you can live without, and send it to Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, World Food Programme, someone who’ll bridge the gap between where you are and where the refugees are and turn your spare change into a life saving mechanism. Then go to bed with a rare satisfaction knowing you saved someone, somewhere, at least for one day. When you wake up, do it again.